The European Court of Justice has ruled in a copyright-infringement case brought by Playboy against Dutch blog GeenStijl.

Its implications will be carefully mulled by rightsholders across the creative industries though. In a nutshell, the court has ruled that knowingly linking to infringing content makes an online publisher liable for copyright infringement, as well as whichever site is hosting the content.

The case dates from 2011, when GeenStijl linked to leaked photos of a Playboy shoot with Dutch model Britt Dekker.

The ECJ ruling specifies that linking to such material infringes copyright unless it was done “without the pursuit of financial gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the illegal nature of the publication”.

So this is about professional publishers, although that would include sites linking to infringing material who make money from advertising or memberships for their core users.

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